Last night JR, Amanda, and I wrote a Labor Day confession prayer which JR prayed this morning at his church. Here it is…
God, you made the world and everything in it. You are Lord of heaven and earth and do not live in temples built by labor, and you are not served by human labor, as if you needed anything, because you yourself give all humanity life and breath and everything else.
We confess that far too often, we do not remember that you are the source of every good gift, of every breath we take and of every calorie of energy we exert.
And we confess that in our darkest moments, we do not want gifts, handouts. Because to us, handouts are for losers. Handouts are for dropouts. Handouts are for beggars on roadsides. Handouts are not for us.
Because we are a people who labor. Our bodies labor to earn so we can eat, buy, sell and secure. Our minds labor with anxiety over all we must accomplish and all we leave undone. Our souls labor endlessly to win your affections – as though your heart could be won by the sweat of our brow. We labor, we produce, we strive, and all too often we consider ourselves worthy and deserving of that with which you have given us.
We confess that we often allow the labor of our hands to distract us from the work that your Spirit is accomplishing in our world – in your world.
Let us remember that you created us in six days, that at the end of your labors, you rested.
Let us remember that the work of our hands is to sow the seeds of our own destruction, not our salvation.
And let us remember that from those first days, you did not rest again until you laid in the Tomb, having accomplished in your work the redemption that all our labors could not purchase for us.
Let us remember that our salvation was a gift given out of the very depths of your love for us, and that it was given freely, graciously.
Let us remember that we are more than producers, more than the sum of our labors, more than our portfolios and purchasing power. Because at the foot of the cross, we are all beggars in need of the handout you so freely extend to us.
This is a weekend in which we break the surface of the sea of our daily toil to draw a collective breath to break from our many labors. So teach us in this time to rest as you created us to rest. Teach us to pause from our production. And in that rest, in that pause, give us eyes to see where your Spirit is already at work, that we may join into your labors. Because we confess that your work -
- proclaiming good news to the poor
- freedom to the prisoner
- healing the sick
- releasing those who suffer oppression
- and doing the hard work of justice
- these labors are what the Spirit anointed your Son to accomplish, and what we as his body are anointed still to do. Let us fill our brief lives with the work of your kingdom. Let the work of our hands become the work of your body, and your Son.
For in this hour together, we look to Jesus, through whom we know and receive your many good gifts and in whose name we gratefully pray.